Last modified: 2021-07-01 by ivan sache
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Flag of Athis-Val-de-Rouvre - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 16 March 2021
The municipality of Athis-Val-de-Rouvre (4,236 inhabitants in 2018; 7,674 ha; municipal website) was established on 1 January 2016 as the merger of the former municipalities of Athis-de-l'Orne, Bréel, La Carneille, Notre-Dame-du-Rocher, Ronfeugerai, Ségrie-Fontaine, Taillebois, and Les Tourailles.
The new municipality is named for river Rouvre (46 km), a tributary of the Orne. The river flows through the hilly, "mountainous" region known as Norman Switzerland, forming scenic gorges overlooked by the Oëtre Rock spur.
Athis, originally known as Aties / Atties, is named for the Latin word "attegia", "a small hut", referring to dwellings built by the shepherds, wine-growers and lumberjacks who colonized the area.
Athis became famous in the early 18th century for flax and hemp cloth, woven from local crops in family workshops. Industrial cloth mills were established in the 19th century, processing cotton, and, subsequently, asbestos.
The Mute's Oak recalls an event that happened in the late 17th century. Guided by a former servant, rascals murdered on 29 March 1692 the Protestant lord Matthieu La Bailly de la Motte in his manor. The lord's elder son was also murdered, but the assaulters spared the life of his younger brother, aged 12, who was mute and deemed unable to reveal the crime. In the turmoil, the child escaped and took shelter in a big, hollow oak, subsequently known as the Mute's Oak. Later on, the mute child could explain what had happened, so that the murderers were arrested, sentenced to death and quartered. Of 20 m in height and 300-500 years old, the oak can be entered through two natural gates and offer shelter to two to three adults.
Bréel is named for a Celtic root, "*brogilu", "a small wood", which gave in Old French "breuil", "an enclosed place, not necessarity woody, where cattle was kept". The main source of income in Bréel was a granite motherload exploited until the Second World War. The Bréel stones were used to build houses in the town of Caen and in several other places. The quarrymen erected in Bréel two chapels, the White Rock Chapel (1855) and St. Joseph Chapel (1895), and a big calvary.
La Carneille is named either for the French word "charmille", "an arbour", or as "the cairn's place", referring to an old necropolis.
The fortress erected at the end of the 11th century was burned down by the English in 1356 and eventually suppressed in 1606.
During the French Revolution, La Carneille, led by Mayor Charles Ambroise Bertrand L'Hodesnière (1756-1819), who seated at the National Convention and voted for the execution of Louis XVI, took the Republican party in a region controlled by Royalists.
Notre-Dame-du-Rocher (Our Lady of the Rock) was originally known as Mille-Savattes. The name, possibly related to the Celtic tribe Suatti, is not directly related with "savates", "old shoes". The local tradition, however, says that the parish priest coined the name when population reached 500 (which never happened), or that the place was originally known as Mouille-Savates, from "mouiller", "to soak", referring to the location of the village between rivers Rouvre and Coulandre.
Ronfeugerai is named for "fougères rousses", "reddish ferns". The Ronfeugerai manor was inhabited in the 19th century by the local historian Hector de la Ferrière (1809-1896). In middle August 1944, anti-German resistance fighters laid mines on the road to Taillebois short before the passage of a convoy coming from the Ronfeugerai, then the seat of the local German staff. Two side-car divers and four officers were killed.
Ségrie-Fontaine is named either for Latin words meaning "a scared fountain" or for the German anthroponym Sigeric.
A miraculous fountain indeed gushes forth in Maple Valley. In 1931, a company established by medical doctors attempted to commercialize the water, whose mineral content and healing properties were similar to the water used in the neighboring spa of Bagnoles, and establish a brand new spa. The local legend claims that the notables of Bagnoles interfered with the project and ruined their potential competitor.
The marquess of Ségrie escaped the infuriated mob in 1789 with the help of servant Joseph Robert, who guided him through a subterranean passage. Robert then guided him to the Oëtre rock, where he took shelter in the Fairies' Rock.
Taillebois, lit. Wood Pruner, was most probably named for the nickname given to a lumberjack.
The old chronicles state that Ivo, Ralph and William of Taillebois supported William the conqueror in the battle of Hastings. Ivo and Ralph settled in England; Ivo was appointed Higher Sheriff of Lincolnshire, while Ralph was either Prior at Whitby Abbey or Viscount in Bedfordshire.
Tourailles was named either for the manor's towers ("tours"), or, most probably, for the Celtic root "*tur", "a hill".
The monastery and Marian sanctuary established in the 6th century in La Monnerie were sacked by the Vikings. When the converted and settled Norsemen re-built the church, they found a statute of the Virgin that had been buried years before. This event initiated a popular pilgrimage dedicated to Our Lady of the Recovery. In 1590, when besieging the town of Falaise, King Henry IV, still a Protestant, invoked Our Lady of the Recovery for the pacification of the kingdom of France. Isaac and Marthe Eudes, desperately expecting a child to no avail, invoked Our Lady of the Recovery; on 14 November 1601, Marthe gave birth to the future St. Jean Eudes (1601-1680; canonized in 1925 by Pope Pius XI), and, subsequently, to another six children.
Deemed to small to welcome 15,000 pilgrims each year, the old church was demolished in 1895 and replaced by a much bigger sanctuary.
On 7 October 1621, Antoine de Montchrestien de Watteville (1575-1621), playwright and economist (he coined the words "political economy") but also a Protestant chief who attempted to raise the Huguenots in Normandy, was murdered in the village's oldest house by Claude Turgot, lord of Tourailles. As a reward, Turgot was appointed one of the 24 ordinary gentilhommes of the Chambre du Roi and enrolled in the Order of Saint Michael.
Ivan Sache, 16 March 2021
The flag of Athis-Val-de-Rouvre (photo) is white with the municipal logo.
Ivan Sache, 16 March 2021
Flag of Athis-de-l'Orne - Image by Olivier Touzeau, 16 March 2021
The flag of Athis-de-l'Orne (photo, photo) was white with the municipal logo.
The logo, shaped like the municipal territory, is divided into six parts recalling the six medieval fiefs that composed Athis: Saint-Vigor, Le Buat, Les Bots, Espinouze, Planquivon and La Fressengère.
The town of Athis-de-l'Orne is represented by a blue crozier, standing for Saint-Vigor, the parish's patron saint. Bishop of Bayeux in the first third of the 6th century, he is credited the initiation of evangelization in Normandy.
Green, used in different shades, forms a link with the natural environment and symbolizes a municipality surrounded by greenery and woods.
Red is the symbol of a modern municipality housing several companies.
Orange represents the municipality's traditional and rural components.
Olivier Touzeau & Ivan Sache, 16 March 2021